Tagged: homeless

I’m Alive!

Sorry for the radio silence. That’s the term, right?

I’m alive. And I really do want to get back to talking about Ghana, but this month has also been quite an experience and I feel I should write about it as it’s happening…. There are a lot of things I can’t say, or rather just choose not to say… I made a decision to not be public about my relationships and I’m trying to stick to that. I think it’s a good decision, because sometimes we can get quite upset at someone and it’s probably not a good idea to vent it to the whole world. 🙂

So let’s seeeeee. Last week, I went to my friend’s place, and stayed there for several days. It was really enjoyable. We stayed up late and talked about everything and anything, from relationships to movies. We watched movies, too. He gave me his couch-bed and slept on a thin roll-out mattress on the floor for the whole week. Awwwww. I did offer to switch with him if he needed a break from it. Luckily, he got a break on Sunday, when I went to check out guests at the Vacant Apartment. This week I started painting the walls of the V.A. It always looks like an easy, quick job, but somehow it does take time. You plaster some holes, wait for that to dry, sand it, put tape around the things you don’t want to paint, then you paint with the brush, then with the roller…. then you let it dry while you watch an episode of Drop Dead Diva, or The Daily Show…. then you apply the second coat. Voilà! One wall down. How many to go? How about that one back in the corner near the washer, that one looks ugly. Yes, so I’ll just move these things off the – dammit, nooooo! Detergent on the floor. Must pull out cabinets and the washer, and try to mop it up…. washer is attached to wall by hose…. that’s not happening….

On to the next wall. Well, the next day. I’m doing a wall a day. Why, you ask? Because I have a life. A life that involves taking the metro to my storage place every morning to tote back more potential items to either come with me, get mailed to me, or stay behind. I’m sorting. And I have until the 24th to empty that thing. I figure I have 6 more trips to make if I’m doing it on my own. Potentially less if I can get a friend with a car. Which I may have for this weekend, or may have had….

This weekend is the Paris Burlesque Festival. A friend and I have volunteered, and I’m very excited about it. Nervous too, since I rarely volunteer for this sort of thing. I get nervous having such responsibility. Oh, and potentially having to converse in and understand French. But I want to meet people in the burlesque world, and see some shows (which otherwise are not free)! And have an excuse to wear a corset. I’m still unsure of my costume.

I almost had a plan to ease my storage woes this weekend, as well. Someone from out of town, with a car, would stay over on Saturday and help me with the trip on Sunday. All my things need to be out of storage by the 24th, and it’s been a pain going back and forth and figuring out what has to come with me and what has to stay. My new storage is another friend’s cave. That’s like an underground storage area.

And then things start to change. I’m told I may have to finish up the walls tomorrow and figure out how to shove everything I could possibly need access to before the 27th into a small closet in the hallway so that a guest can check in. Can I stop here and say, yes, I know this friend seems a little selfish right now, and if you knew the extent of the relationship, you would just say, “what an @sshole,” as others have. It has not been an easy year for me. Every year in France seems to get more difficult. Like running on a hamster wheel that won’t stop. And that’s why I’m getting off for a moment, and taking a breather in L.A. I need to examine this wheel and figure out a survival strategy now that I know what I’m in for. But at the moment, things have gone what I would call, “wrong,” and I’m temporarily without a home of my own. And does anyone see the irony of the homeless girl managing an apartment rental? Yeah…

It’s been an interesting time for me. I am observing which friends reach out and offer help, and which ones could, but don’t. Which friends are always there when I need help (even when I tell them “you’ve done so much for me already, I don’t want to ask you for help again!”) and which ones say (well not out loud) “OK, I’ve given enough, I don’t care if you have to sleep on the street with your dog.”

I’m not perfect. There have been times where I couldn’t respond to a request for help. But I’ve taken in cats, I’ve nursed a cat with cancer, I’ve picked up and dropped off friends at the airport (one time in the middle of the night, too), I’ve loaned money (and sometimes it doesn’t get paid back…. thanks, guys), I’ve loaned my car, I’ve taken in friends who had no place to go, I even shared a tiny studio with a friend for months and slept on a mattress on the floor. I want to help. I love it when I can be there for someone when they need it. I actually am enjoying painting the walls here, because it’s something that I can give.

But to know that the place was vacant for the entire 6 weeks I was gone, because I was the only person he thought he could trust in all of Paris to manage it…. and now that I’m back with this major issue of homelessness he desperately needs to rent it, and I have to be the one to do it…. Over the summer I dealt with a water heater that wouldn’t heat, a washer/dryer that wouldn’t dry (and I was up all night for an 8AM check-in trying to do laundry. Then vacuuming, which woke the downstairs neighbour. And she let me know of her displeasure.), a clogged kitchen sink, a wobbly faucet, hair in the shower drain, stained sheets, ripped sheets, putting up curtain rods for curtains I still can’t figure out…. need I continue? But when I am in serious need of help and a place to stay, and this place is not being lived in… I need to prepare it for someone else who’s got the money to go live wherever they want. I’m seriously reconsidering my relationship with this person.

So on Friday I may have to shove everything into a closet and pack my backpack… forget about more musical contests because my guitar will be locked inside an apartment… and now figure out what I’m going to do about my dog while me and my friend (who has been helping to watch her when I can’t) both are volunteering at the festival. Oh yeah, and I can no longer host the friend who was going to save the day with his car on Sunday. So there goes that, and I have no idea how I’m going to get these things over to the new storage place.

OK, on a more positive note… I listened to the audio book version of The Four Agreements, which I highly recommend. I will probably listen to it again soon. I need to drill it into my head.

I also listened to an interview with the author of Conversations With God (which I haven’t read yet but would now like to). I took a few notes, one of which was to

“Be the source of God’s presence in the life of another.”

Other notes were:

Be grateful for every condition and circumstance in life.

Ask myself how I would be able to express who I am (in the form of being kind, caring, loving, forgiving…) without conditions in which to become that.

To say,”Thank you God, for this one more chance to announce and declare, to express and to fulfill, to become and to demonstrate, who I really am.”

Good stuff, especially when going through trials. But that first note makes me think, a lot. He said when we look at what it is we think we lack, and then instead of trying to find it, seek to give it to others…. it will find us. It’s a little tricky when what you lack is a place for you and your dog to sleep, but maybe I can come up with something else.

One time I stopped and gave money to an older woman who was in the metro station with her cart of belongings. She told me to wait a moment, and then pulled out a pack of gum, which she handed to me. I thought it was so sweet, so special that this woman who had almost nothing would find something to give to me. She didn’t have to. I wasn’t expecting anything in return. But she gave. I kept that pack of gum. In fact, maybe I’ll even bring it back to L.A. with me….

Oh yes, I mentioned musical contests…. so if you wouldn’t mind…

CLICK HERE

and check me out….

 

 

One Day At A Time

Monday, October 7, about 4:00 PM

For the past two years in Paris, I’ve been trying to settle in, despite my decreasing income and frustrations learning French. My plan was to be creative, all the time… make that webseries! Learn French and act in French! Act in English! Do background work, like in L.A., when I needed extra cash! Have a cozy place to live! But it’s been a struggle. Looking back, of course I can say, “well maybe I should have looked for a job right away so I would learn French quicker, and have a little more income….” but I was really optimistic. And then after the optimism came the time in The Suburbs, when commuting for any reason was a pain, and culture shock and homesickness set in big time. I left that place and tossed everything in storage, all the furniture to be sold again over the summer for much less than I paid to furnish my cozy house…. I returned my cat to his natural habitat (California) and decided that I would join him again in 3 months time.

The financial situation continued to get worse, and when I returned from Los Angeles I could only manage to afford a tiny studio in Belleville, on the 7th floor, for about the same price you’d get a decent studio with a toilet, shower, maybe even a tub, and a kitchen in Los Angeles. I intended to buy my ticket home at the end of July so I could go back to doing background work, be with my cat, and just recover for a while in a real apartment. Or house. Well, the Prefecture messed up those plans with an appointment in September, so I had to stick around. Knowing how time-consuming the search for a place in Paris would be, and how expensive a decent place to live would be, I opted to go traveling. When I returned to Paris, I thought I had two options. The apartment I help to rent out on airbnb (in between guests) and someone who said they had a spare room I could stay in. Well, the second option fell through. Which left me a couple days here and there in option #1. One sweet friend came to my rescue, and hosted me for over a week, until another friend of his came to visit from out of town, and I had to find a place to rest my head in the next 24 hours. My dog would stay behind for the time being. The next day, another friend came to my rescue, for one night. I even got to sleep in a bed! But the next day I was back on the search for another bed. And now I find myself, for the first time ever, I believe, stuck with no place to go and no place to be. I’ve got a backpack and a bag of bananas and left over veggies. My first thought was to head to Eastside Burgers, where they have vegan (junk) food, free wifi, and a restroom. When I arrived, they were closed. Yay for Mondays. Do Parisiens fast on Mondays? I sat for a few minutes trying to figure out where I could go next. “Home” wasn’t an option. I turned the corner and found a public toilet. Yay! At least I could do that. So I wiped down the seat (come ON, people) and did so. Then I walked along the street, through a bit of a park. I sat and watched the water, and pigeons, and smelled the flowers. A homeless man slept on a bench across from me, on the other side of the fountains. I wished I could sleep.

I’d been texting and FBing for some help since yesterday, and by now at least knew where I would have a bed for the night, though I was told it would be 10pm before he arrived home from work.

I moved on after lightening my bag by two bananas. I thought perhaps I could get a haircut. It’s about time for that. My fringe is in my eyes. I knew my regular place was closed on Mondays (seriously!!!) and the one place nearby wanted over 40€…. no thanks. No haircut today. Now where? I looked up Subway. They’d be open, for sure. And have veggie options. So I walked to Subway. As luck would have it, I sat down next to an outlet. So I gained 20% on my phone while I slowly ate half of a sandwich, saving the other half for dinner, because who knows where I’d be. I felt like I should be on my way, but… to where? Then I remembered some letters I had to mail. La Poste! I mailed my letters. Now what? I walked around the block and thought of a park I’d been to. I looked on my map, and I found it. All four benches were claimed. I mean seriously claimed, by one or two people sitting smack in the middle of all of them. I sat on some stairs until one pair left. And this is where I find myself now.

My lovely host has informed me that it will now only be 7pm before I have a place to come “home” to for the night, which makes me very happy and relieved. I may eat the rest of my sandwich early, to celebrate.

Tomorrow I will go to French class, comme habitude, and then check those guests out of option #1. Although there’s an inquiry open for people to check in only hours later, it hasn’t been confirmed and I’m crossing my fingers, holding my breath and praying that they’ve found another place to stay, because my friends don’t seem to have any spare sleeping surfaces for me this week.

The rest of the month looks a bit scary to me. I have to save everything I can to afford to fly my dog, my luggage, and me (I borrowed money, for the first time ever, at least when we’re talking more than $20) back to L.A. and then have enough money to pay for November’s rent there. But when I start getting scared, I remind myself that as long as I have what I need for today, I am taken care of. We pray “give us this day our daily bread…” Not tomorrow’s, not next week’s… one day at a time. Each day has enough worry of it’s own, without adding to it the worry for tomorrow.

 

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matt 6:31-34

It’s something I should pay more attention to, instead of getting distracted in survival mode. It’s hard. I think we all like security, we want to know that we’ll have food and shelter when we need it. This month is becoming a real test of where my focus lays, and how much faith I have in God to provide what I need, when I need it…. no sooner, no later….

I am glad to know that there will be an end to it on October 31. That I will have a place to rest, and that this is only temporary. Because even though I’m learning how to trust God day to day, I also feel very frustrated with the time I waste just moving from one place to another, every few days, when I could be focusing on being productive or having fun. I will be learning how to be productive and have fun through it all, though. A good lesson, since when is there ever a “perfect” time to do anything? Though there’s really something to be said for having a home you love to come back to and know you can come back to for as long as you want, to lift that burden of concern from your shoulders and free you to truly focus on your creative pursuits.

I am grateful to every friend who has been able to take me in and save me from hostels, or whatever my alternatives are, and to any and all of my friends I say if you’re ever in this position, my bed, my couch, my floor, whatever I have that you’re willing to sleep on, is yours. And some of you know that already from experience.

OK! So here I go, I’m going to eat the rest of my sandwich, signifying my faith that God will provide. 🙂